Second guilty plea in N.M. shooting spree that targeted Dems' homes

Prosecutors say Demetrio Trujillo conspired with a failed Republican candidate for the New Mexico Legislature to shoot at the homes of Democratic candidates for office in 2022. Photo by Scotwriter21/Wikimedia Commons

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A second New Mexico man has pleaded guilty to targeting Democrat officeholders in an intimidation scheme concocted by the GOP loser of an election for state representative.

Demetrio Trujillo, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, two counts of interference with federally protected activities and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, U.S. Attorney M.M. Uballez said in a release Friday.

Trujillo also entered guilty pleas to charges of discharging a firearm for shooting at the residences of three Democratic candidates for elective offices in an effort to intimate them into not campaigning.

Trujillo faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $1 million fine and will remain in custody until his scheduled sentencing on May 1.

His son and co-defendant, Jose Louise Trujillo, on Jan. 8 pleaded guilty to the same felony charges plus possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. He also remains in custody and faces up to life in prison with sentencing scheduled for April 8 after allegedly shooting at a fourth victim's home.

The pair allegedly conspired with Soloman Pena, who unsuccessfully ran as the Republican Party's candidate for representative of District 14 of the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2022.

Pena lost to State Rep. Miguel Garcia by 74% to 26%, and the Bernalillo County Board of Representatives certified the election results on Nov. 21, 2022. Pena claimed the vote total was fraudulent, went uninvited to the homes of several county commissioners and coordinated the shootings in Albuquerque, prosecutors say.

Demetrio Trujillo's plea agreement says he met Pena through two other co-defendants and that Pena, prior to the Nov. 7, 2022, vote, claimed the election would be rigged against him. Trujillo said Pena gave him the addresses of the three political rivals to shoot at their homes in an effort to intimidate them into refusing to certify the election results.

Pena, who is in federal custody on charges of organizing the shooting spree, allegedly paid the Trujillos to shoot at a total of four homes.